That straightforward valuable advice really deserves to be made more complicated, according to consumer researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Purdue University North Central, and University of Missouri-Kansas City. The researchers tell us we should stay aware of the three different categories of language retailers can use with consumers:
- Conventional language. The hairdresser or barber making conversation about the latest Jersey Shore episode or local sports team’s performance is developing rapport with the customer and making the time of the service or product delivery pass more pleasantly.
- Commercial language. We’d like our verbal transactions with shoppers to end in commercial transactions with customers. We’ll want to remember to ask for the sale.
- Ceremonial language. Culture dictates what we say to the consumer if we want to create store loyalty. With certain people, it might be “Hello, sir,” while others expect, “What’s up?” The “Have a nice day” will fit fine with some shoppers, but strike others as smarmy.
Other shoppers come into your store asking for a specific product and brand, but before buying it, as they'll end up doing, they want to hear about at least a few alternatives, as if to convince themselves they're making the right decision.
And then there are those customers who refuse to buy a product until they can take it out of the packaging and run their hands over it. This last group, not surprisingly, resist making purchases over the internet, although, according to researchers at University of Kentucky and University of Wisconsin, rituals of the grasp-and-caress crowd can be satisfied with written or spoken descriptions of all the different textures the product has.
The complaining, arguing, searching, and caressing are shopping rituals. Most shopping rituals are quite deep-seated in the personality because they were introduced early in life as the child watched others shop and was coached by parents.
Researchers at New York University have verified how uncomfortable consumers become when retailers’ service scripts don’t take account of the individual’s shopping rituals.
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Branch Out Scripts to Allow for Rituals